2015 is  a massive year for rugby union.

It’s the Rugby World Cup. The RFU are doing loads of excellent work to inspire children to enjoy reading and writing. And…well… my Rugby Academy trilogy is coming out.

Because of all of that I am going to do a daily blog – on here – aimed at children who love rugby (and people who care about children who love rugby). It’ll be like a diary of my rugby year, with loads of tips on reading and writing about the game. Also, competitions and other opportunism.

That’s the plan.

It’ll start on 1st January.


Happy New Year for Thursday.

Ideas for Christmas books for young sports fans

It’s not always easy to choose the right book for a child, grandchild, niece or nephew. But if you do choose the right book it can have a huge impact.

I talk to more than 50,000 children a year about books. I ask them what they like to read. And many of them talk about sports books, because that’s what I write.

This is my list of sports book Christmas ideas for children based on what children say to me.

The Guinness Book of Records do football and rugby versions. Ideal for children who like facts and who might not be confident with reading long linear narratives. 6+

The Know the Game Series are short and clear books with the rules of most sports and games. Very comprehensive. Include loads of sports. Good value at £5. 7+

Charlie Merrick’s Misfits in Fouls, Friends and Football by Dave Cousins is a very accessible well-illustrated non-intimidating story about football. A little in the style of Wimpy Kid, etc. Funny too. 8+           

There are lots of boys’ football series. There is only one for girls that is in print, but it’s great. Helena Pielichaty’s Girls FC series. Twelve excellent stories. 7+

The 2015 England Rugby Annual is one of the few non-fiction rugby books for children. Lots of pictures, puzzles and facts. Great for Christmas Day. Be careful not to buy it for anyone who doesn’t support England. 6+

Jessica Ennis’ autobiographyUnbelieveable – looks like it is for adults, but Ennis wanted it written for children too. A confident 10+ could read it. My daughter did and found it very inspiring. She now has Jessica Ennis posters on her walls.

Another Olympic autobiography – covering swimmning, cycling and running – is the Brownlee brothers’, Swim Bike Run: our triathlon story. Not only the story of their training and competing, but filled with training tips too. 9+

Another annual not about balls – although some might argue with that – is the Top Gear 2015 annual. Lots of kids are obsessed with cars. This is one Top Gear publication that is aimed at kids, so it is relatively safe. 7+

One Dollar Horse by Lauren St John is a great story set in the world of equestrianism.  A girl and a horse. But more than your usual pony tale. St John writes animals as well – or better – than anyone. 9+

And – finally – one for next year. Loads of children love WWE wrestling. 2015 sees the first children’s wrestling novel I know of. Phil Earle’s Demolition Dad. Phil is a fine writer, so it’ll be good. 7+

Finally, it’s all very well promoting other authors’ books, but I write sports fiction too. Rugby Academy and Over the Line are the new ones.


Rugby Tour

Exciting news! I have the go ahead for my R.F.U. England Rugby tour of public libraries during August 2015.

The tour will take in thirteen libraries, each close to one of the thirteen venues where the 2015 Rugby World Cup will begin the following month.

Not everything is decided yet, but the tour will include one of my Rugby World Cup Reading Games in the library. And more. Much more.


These are the dates with venue cities and towns:


Week one: the South East

10           Twickenham

11           East London

12           Wembley

13           Brighton

14           Milton Keynes


Week two: the Midlands, the South West and Wales

17           Leicester

18           Birmingham

19           Gloucester

20           Cardiff

21           Exeter


Week three: the North

25           Newcastle

26           Leeds

27           Manchester


I have a few other ideas to enhance the tour. More news to follow about them. As well as venues and times.

The R.F.U. are  funding the tour entirely. A HUGE thank you to England Rugby for supporting public libraries and the reading for pleasure agenda. I think they deserve massive credit for this.

Visit the RAF Museum WW1 exhibition

I was very happy to be invited to the launch of Hendon RAF Museum’s WW1 exhibition last night.


It was brilliant and I want to go back to spend more time taking it all in.

I was there – very much – to get my first look at a Sopwith Camel. As well as enjoy the party.

My next book is about a modern child making a Sopwith Camel Airfix kit – and how, the minute they complete the kit, they are transported into that plane doing what it was made to do during WW1. Seeing the plane gave me a lot of food for thought.

The exhibition includes interactive maps and films. Plus a cockpit where you can try out how the controls of an early bi-plane responded. Also a wall featuring the portraits of dozens of RFC men and women.

RAF ww1

Together with planes – the main attraction – and other artifacts the exhibition makes you think and feel. It had quite an impact on me.

Great for kids. And – er – big kids. And anyone who wants to know more about young men (some no more than 17 years old) who set off twice a day on sorties over France and Belgium, fully aware that the average life-expectancy of an RFC pilot was three weeks.

You can find out more about the exhibition here. It’s well worth a visit.

What book do you want for Christmas?

I’ve been working with Book Clubs in Schools, who arrange for volunteer mentors – including sixth-formers – to visit schools to encourage children to read for pleasure.


Via their website – www.bookclubsinschools.org – we asked children what books they would like for Christmas. So far 126 have replied. Here are the findings:

In the 10-11 age group the top 3 are:

(1) Awful Auntie by David Walliams

(2) Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – Jeff Kinney

(3) Dork Diaries: Skating Sensation by Rachel Renee Russell

In the age 8-9 the top 3 are:

(1) Awful Auntie by David Walliams

(2) The Witches by Roald Dahl

(3) The Lemony Snicket books, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Do you agree with the children who have voted so far?

Or is your choice better?

Why not vote – and persuade your friends to vote – and see if your favourite author moves up the poll?